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Delivering ON EVERY FRONT

Excellent service is what will keep customers coming back, writes beauty & business coach Helena van der Vyver

I am amazed at how terminology has changed. In my first job in a salon, we referred to clients. My second job was in a 5-star hotel spa and we referred to guests. Now, as a business coach also assisting aesthetic doctors, we refer to patients. With all that said, for the purposes of this article, we’ll use the term customer.

Who is the most important person in our beauty business? It is the customer. They are the ones who pay our salaries and bills. Never forget that.

I am a strong believer that the two elements that lead to success are excellence and consistency. This quote brings it together: “Consistency is what transforms average into excellence”.

One of the best books you can reference (and it is such an easy read) is ‘Excellence Wins: A No-Nonsense Guide to Becoming the Best in a World of Compromise’ by Horst Schulze (Founder of Ritz-Carlton).

Schulze suggests four essential steps to excellent customer service that I love and which make so much sense. They are: Punctuality; Accuracy; Be Nice; And Personalization / Customization.

Let’s unpack these steps for our industry (please note that some will apply to your business and some not, so eat the meat, spit out the bones and take what works for you).

Punctuality

• At the booking phase all customers must be encouraged to arrive 15 minutes prior to complete a consultation form, enjoy a snack/ beverage and to allow their treatment to start punctually so they can have the benefit of the full duration.

• Asalon policy should be on your website as well as a pricelist advising customers that late arrival will still require full payment.

• Staff must arrive 15 minutes before their shift and no later. This is to put their bags down, check their column and set-up for their customers.

• If your therapist’s day starts late, it has a knock-on effect.

“AT THE BOOKING PHASE all CUSTOMERS must be ENCOUR AGED to ARRIVE 15 MINUTES PRIOR to complete a CONSULTATION FORM, enjoy a SNACK/ BEVER AGE and to allow their TREATMENT TO START PUNCTUALLY so they can have the BENEFIT of the FULL DUR ATION.„

• If customers are late, reception needs to communicate this and advise them if their treatment time can be extended or not, depending on whether customers are booked after them.

• It is suggested not to give the full ‘late’ time to them but only half/ maximum of 15 minutes, so they also lose out a bit and will endeavour to be punctual in the future.

• Should a staff member run late for whichever reason, she needs to advise reception ASAP so that another therapist can start or take over her next customer, or you can advise the customer, or adjust her time slot.

• Communication is key to ensure punctuality.

• Staff that run over time must be upskilled and mentored to improve in this regard.

• When staff upgrade or add on treatments, they must check if they and the room/ chair is available and then book it out accordingly. Of course, this is only after the customer has agreed to an extended time as well. Reception asking the right questions at booking phase can avoid this so that enough time and all required treatments are booked prior.

• To avoid incorrect bookings or double bookings, all bookings must be repeated back to the customer in detail before saying goodbye or an automated confirmation is sent if booked on-line.

• Ensuring your room is well-stocked will prevent little interruptions and will avoid wasting time and running overtime.

• Should a day be going pear-shaped in terms of timing, reception should communicate with customers prior via a call /business WhatsApp.

Accuracy

• Booking details such as day and time, name, contact number, treatment(s), duration and therapist(s), if applicable.

• Information given and received.

• Answers on questions.

• Education.

• Treatment & Home care protocol/ Retail products.

• Invoice/ Payment capturing and processing.

• Cash-up, so that everything balances and is complete.

• Messages on email or WhatsApp – spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Profotosession/Shutterstock.com

Be nice

• The currency of business is relationship.

• People buy people first.

• Everyone can do with kindness.

Personalization / Customization

• Part of receiving value for money is that it speaks to your needs and preferences.

• When things are done the way the customer prefers, it gives her/ him a reason to want to return.

• The customer feels that she/ he is heard and seen and not just a number.

• This allows the customer’s expectation for her/ his booking to be acknowledged, so aim to achieve and exceed.

One of the most powerful customer service tips is to use the customer’s name. We were always told, if you remember their name, they’ll remember your name. Not only that, but it allows you to form a connection with the customer and they will know that you took care to check, memorise and use their name.

“No sound on earth is as sweet to a person’s ears as their own name.”– Horst Schulze, ‘Excellence Wins: A No-Nonsense Guide to Becoming the Best in a World of Compromise’

“IF CUSTOMERS are late, RECEPTION NEEDS to communicate this and ADVISE THEM if their TREATMENT TIME can be EXTENDED OR NOT, depending on whether customers ARE BOOKED AFTER THEM.„

Your salon’s customer service keys

This is the final focus to secure excellent customer service.

• Never say no, always make a plan, meet the customer half-way, or put in an effort.

• Always smile, make eye contact, be friendly, warm and professional.

• Give the customer a sincere compliment.

• Pay attention to detail.

• Prior to the customer’s visit, prepare on her history and the treatment & retail / home care focus.

• Consistency is key. Treat each customer on the same standard.

• Every customer is a VIP, even a gift voucher customer.

• You are only as good as your last customer. To end off, remember these words. “An organization can’t please every human being every time. But it never hurts to try.” – Horst Schulze, ‘Excellence Wins: A No-Nonsense Guide to Becoming the Best in a World of Compromise’

Helena van der Vyver has been a beauty business coach for almost 10 years. Her 30 years of beauty industry specific experience sets her on the level of ‘Beauty Industry Titan’. Van der Vyver coaches aesthetic doctors, beauty/hair salons, spas, brands as well as non-beauty entrepreneurs, having herself gone through the ranks of beauty therapist, assistant manager, manager, operations manager and entrepreneur. Email info@1nespa.co.za
This article appears in Professional Beauty October Issue

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Professional Beauty October Issue
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